The Cubs open its spring schedule on March 4 against Oakland, and it’s the first of several exhibition games of interest.
Yoenis Cespedes, one of the most highly coveted free agents this winter, will presumably make his first start in a big league uniform with the A’s.
Five days later the Cubs face the cross town rival White Sox, with perhaps, our first chance to see ‘The Fuk’ suited up with the South Siders?
San Diego is the opponent on March 24th, which could lead to a showdown of former-Cub Andrew Cashner facing former-Padre Anthony Rizzo.
And then there’s the return of Phat Albert in back-to-back games against the Angels on March 31st and April 1st–three days before Opening Day.
What a pleasure knowing the Cubs won’t face Pujols again this season, baring a World Series meeting in October. (ha!)
However, Dale Sveum choosing to pitch to Pujols with the game on the line is yet to be determined. Unfortunately we know if Mike Quade could, he would. (sigh).
Maybe I’m reading into this too much, but I get the feeling Aramis is trying to stick it to his old team by signing with Milwaukee.
The motivation is clearly there when you think about it.
Albert Pujols signing with the Angels didn’t surprise me. Anaheim paying $52M more than Miami’s 10-year offer did.
In fact, I got a good laugh Thursday morning when I heard the news about Pujols. Not because of the ridiculous money involved, but because I never once thought any team would surpass the Marlins’ $200M offer…by a whopping $52M, no less.
So with the Pujols decision being what it is, here’s both the good and bad news from it concerning the Cubs.
Talk about buzz-kill. Baseball’s Winter Meetings wrap up this afternoon and the Cubs have yet to make any moves.
But that’s been par for the course while the rest of the league appears content on standing pat until Phat Albert decides where he’ll play next season.
The good news, if you want to call it that, with the Marlins pulling out of the Pujols sweepstakes is Chicago still remains in the hunt.
If Miami’s 10-year, $200M offer isn’t good enough for Albert we can fairly assume he’s either heading back to St. Louis or reconsidering taking a shorter deal–and possibly one rumored to have been offered by the Cubs.
It’s hard to imagine the Cubs will parlay Pujols or Fielder into a short-term mega-deal to sign with the Cubs.
At least, not with the Marlins reportedly offering Albert 10-years at $200M and Fielder being courted by multiple suitors willing to shell out ridiculous money and years, as well.
Not to mention, for Chicago to sign either player would require Theo to break from his own code, one which emphasizes making the smart money picks over the sexy ones.
And it’s remarkably clear the severe payroll risks of signing either Pujols or Fielder out weights the gains they could bring the Cubs on the field.
So much for Len & Bob as the Cubs best leadoff man. WGN’s dynamic duo has been unseated with the arrival of David DeJesus.
Right away it appears Epstein/Hoyer share a similar idea Jim Hendry had two years ago when the Cubs signed Joey Gathright–a speedy, left-handed hitting outfielder–to bat leadoff.
As you remember, the Gathright signing was short lived. Through 20 games he batted .214 with one stolen base, no extra base hits and six strikeouts. Hendry subsequently dealt him to Baltimore for Ryan Freel on May 8, 2009.
Freel was even worse than Gathright statistically posting a .143 avg. in 14 games with one steal, one RBI and seven strikeouts. And by July 2, 2009, Freel was DFA to make room for the newly acquired Jeff Baker from the Colorado Rockies.
Surprisingly, the Cubs have been without a typical leadoff man ever since.
1.) Tom Ricketts’ wise understanding as team owner.
2.) Pujols or Fielder?
3.) Did the Cubs really lose Maddux again?
1.) What I’m most happy about this offseason is Tom Ricketts’ willingness to allow Theo Epstein the opportunity to build the Cubs as he sees fit.
Basically, Ricketts is staying out Theo’s way, which is something we don’t see often enough from owners in pro sports be it baseball, football, basketball or hockey.
When Scott Feldman walked Yadier Molina with the bases loaded in the fifth inning I switched the TV off.
St. Louis was leading 4-2 and a gut feeling told me this wasn’t the Rangers’ night. They wouldn’t come back, not even with four innings left to play, and despite all the hysterics that took place the night before.
It was a similar feeling of doubt I felt Thursday night with Texas leading by three-runs late in Game 6. “Too close, not over,” I thought.
Unable to bare watching the final innings unfold I turned that game off too, instead opting to listen to the conclusion of Game 6 game on the radio.
Nestled in my office I cranked up the space heater and waited for Texas to celebrate. Of course, that didn’t happen. There I was cold, in the dark, and wondering just how on earth the Rangers had let the series slip to a decisive Game 7.
My nerves were finally spent through five innings Friday night. If Texas came back to win, shame on me for not paying attention. But all I kept thinking was, “Not the Cardinals, not again.”
Only once before had I ever tuned-out a World Series game. Not surprisingly, that came during Game 5 of the 2006 World Series when St. Louis was busy beating the daylights out of Detroit. I simply couldn’t bare the heartache of watching that game either.
There are but three teams I always gain pleasure from watching lose as a Cubs, Colts and Blackhawks fan: The Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Vancouver Canucks.
If Texas could win the World Series I’d have the three-peat in place: Green Bay defeated Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl and Boston won against Vancouver in the Stanley Cup Finals. Not to be, I suppose.
With baseball as my first love, however, this one hurts the most. LaRussa, Pujols, Berkman…Ryan expletive Theriot, baseball’s champions.
Not the Cardinals, not again.
Two things to watch for as the Cubs’ season draws to a close over the final six games.
1.) The Cubs and Pirates are tied for fourth place in the NL Central.
2.) Chicago has a chance to ruin the Cardinals’ bid for the NL Wild Card.
The Cubs have managed a (27-23) record over its last 50 games to climb into a tie with Pittsburgh for fourth place in the division at (69-87).
The Peg Legs, meanwhile, have gone in the opposite direction. They’ve lost 40 of its last 56 games since leading the division at (53-47) 100-games into the season.